Sequoia Park Zoo and Foundation staffs have a strong vision for Eureka’s Zoo. This vision evolved from our Zoo’s history, community input and professional expertise. Read below and join along on a family’s fictional visit to Sequoia Park Zoo a few years from now and take a glimpse into your Zoo’s future…
Today it’s our turn to see for ourselves what the new Zoo is all about. I am here with my family because we’ve heard there is a lot happening at Sequoia Park Zoo—our neighbors and friends have been enthusiastic about the changes.
The entrance is a kaleidoscope of activity-- a school bus unloads a gaggle of kids excited about exploring the Barnyard and visiting tourists gaze in awe at the majestic redwood forest backdrop. The delicious Café aromas will certainly bring us back for lunch and perhaps we will do a bit of browsing at the Gift Shop on the way out.
We begin our Zoo experience in the Native Predator Community and are greeted by playful river otters darting through the water at eye level! A zookeeper is giving a “Keeper Chat” and we learn that otters use their keen sense of smell and long whiskers to find prey in the muddy water. We are also told that this exhibit can accommodate a breeding pair of otters and the keeper suspects the female is pregnant. Then, we hear the call of a bald eagle perched high on a tree up ahead and learn that the Zoo is providing a home for this regal bird that was injured in the wild and can’t be returned.
Next we come upon bobcats stalking something in the grass. As we observe them, I realize that we are being watched – by a cougar! Sitting up on a rock overhead, the cougar calmly gazes at us. We continue through a tunnel under the cougar’s habitat and learn about the important role wildlife corridors play in urban areas.
“Bears!” our son shouts as he darts around the corner. We visit with a docent who tells us about black bears in our area and how we can keep them wild and safe by making our garbage bear-proof. Spotted owls and ravens are to our right and more bears emerge from the vegetation on our left. We spend a while in the forest ecology lab and play with the hands-on activities that teach us about the forest canopy. This experience has opened our eyes to the important role predators play here on the North Coast.
We pass under a bamboo arch into the Asian Forest Community, where gibbons swing back and forth in the trees ahead. Then our gaze lights upon a pair of red pandas lounging in the branches above, while small muntjac deer forage on the forest floor. Colorful squirrels and stunning pheasants share this Asian forest home.
In the Barnyard, we’re greeted by a large friendly dog who leads us into the barn, where we enjoy the tiny mouse cupboard and the interactive Kids Koop. My wife and I watch our son enjoy the Contact Corral, grooming goats and rabbits. We don’t have pets, so this is a great way for him to learn how to behave with animals.
We’re getting hungry, so we make our way back towards the Café, this time through a tropical building filled with lush vegetation and animals, including tamarins, a prehensile-tailed porcupine, and a sloth.
Outside again, we spot something red in a grassy meadow. A maned wolf strolls out of the high grass and we are amazed at its long, black legs and huge ears. Behind the wolf looms a giant anteater, using its long claws to dig into a rotten log.
As we continue through the Tropical Andes, we enjoy the chatter and acrobatics of our old friends the spider monkeys, who look at home in their new natural habitat. On either side of the path are more amazing animals-- peccaries, rheas, water-loving capybaras and Patagonian cavies.
We cross over the flamingo pond bridge, pausing to admire these beautiful birds then it’s on to the Café. We order some delicious food and walk to the lawn for a picnic. A docent is talking about the history of the zoo and the zoo’s new conservation efforts, so we listen with interest as we eat. Then it’s on to the next part of our journey.
Our son leads us down the path towards the Prairie Keystone Community, where the Zoo looks more like Midwestern grasslands. We encounter a badger digging a burrow, a swift fox darting behind a bush and black footed ferrets fast asleep in a den. Apparently, all three of these animals are predators of the prairie dogs, who we’re delighted to see back at the zoo again.
My son runs toward the prairie dogs right away. We quickly snap a picture as we see our son has climbed through a tube and is now inside a bubble in the exhibit in the middle of the prairie dog colony. Sharing the exhibit are burrowing owls, one of many species that rely on prairie dog burrows for their own homes.
Leaping lemurs inside the Island Adaptations exhibit entice my son to emerge from the prairie dog den. Clumsy-looking but well-adapted tree kangaroos move amongst the lemurs in the branches.
As we leave the island, we see a statue of a chimpanzee in a beautiful garden. My son asks about it, and a keeper tells him all about Bill the chimpanzee and the wonderful legacy he left for Eureka. We read more about the history of Sequoia Park Zoo and its animals in Bill’s Garden.
After a quick stop at the Gift Shop, we are on our way home. I can’t believe it. We spent half the day at the Zoo and know we’ll be back soon!